GET your shorts on and work on that mental muscle. Just 20 minutes of exercise can boost brain chemicals vital for memory and mood.
Researchers scanned the brains of 38 healthy volunteers before and after they cycled vigorously for 20 minutes. Exercise increased both glutamate and GABA – two vital neurotransmitters that help brain cells talk to each other (Journal of Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.3455-15.2016).
“The effects lasted for about 30 minutes after the end of the exercise session,” says Richard Maddock at the University of California, Davis. Levels of both chemicals were higher at the beginning of the study in volunteers who had worked out within the previous week. This suggests that regular exercise can lead to a sustained increase in the neurotransmitters.
Maddock says early results from a second study suggest that the boost in chemicals improves memory performance. His team plans to test whether these changes could also help people with depression, who have lower levels of both glutamate and GABA.
This article appeared in print under the headline “Work out to boost mood and memory”